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BART Warns Riders About Planned Protest Of Officer Shooting

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - An alert on the Bay Area Rapid Transit website notified riders about protests that may disrupt service at San Francisco stations Thursday.

BART put a warning on its website for passengers to be "advised that protesters may attempt to disrupt train service during August commute periods beginning as early as Thursday, August 11, 2011, in downtown San Francisco BART stations."

It would be the second protest condemning a man's fatal shooting by BART police officers at the Civic Center station on July 3. Charles Hill was shot in the torso by BART officers responding to reports of a "wobbly drunk" at the station. The officers claim Hill came at them with a knife.

On July 11, three San Francisco BART stations were briefly closed during rush hour as an estimated 100 protesters chanted and held doors open to keep trains from leaving. No arrests were reported.

BART is most concerned about the safety of the protesters and commuters.

"(Something) as simple as a blow horn and interrupting announcements creates unsafe conditions," BART spokesman Linton Johnson said. "An illegal protest on narrow platforms with fast trains and (electricity); it can make for a deadly combination."

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency also announced it shut down regular cable car service on the Powell Street portion of the Powell-Mason and Powell-Hyde lines at 3:30 p.m. Thursday as a precaution of possible disruptions from a protest.

Muni shuttles will be available in their place.

Johnson encourages BART passengers to have their eyes and ears open as they commute over the next month.

The transit agency has been battling image problems after a white officer Johannes Mehserle fatally shot an unarmed black passenger Oscar Grant III on New Year's Day 2009 at an Oakland train station.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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